Robert Service calls the Poetry Crisis Line, part 2

Read part 1 here

 

CALLER: Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee,

COUNSELOR: What part?

CALLER: where the cotton blooms and blows.

COUNSELOR: Um…

CALLER: Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole,

COUNSELOR: So he was a dancer?

CALLER: God only knows.

COUNSELOR: But you just said–

CALLER: He was always cold,

COUNSELOR: Was there visible shrinkage?

CALLER: but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;

COUNSELOR: So he made good tips?

CALLER: Though he’d often say in his homely way

COUNSELOR: Right. So was he a good dancer? If he was homely but still got good tips.

CALLER: that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

COUNSELOR: Exotic dancing isn’t for everyone. Sometimes people burn out quickly.

William Carlos Williams re-calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: My wife’s new pink slippers
have gay pom-poms.

COUNSELOR: Is it any of your business? And how can you tell?

CALLER: There is not a spot or a stain
on their satin toes or their sides.

COUNSELOR: Hmm. But they could be metrosexual.

CALLER: All night they lie together
under her bed’s edge.

COUNSELOR: OK, that’s more convincing. But slippers just stay together.

CALLER: Shivering I catch sight of them

COUNSELOR: Oh!

CALLER: and smile,

COUNSELOR: I’m glad you’re comfortable with it. But please don’t watch them. They may want their privacy.

 

Read the original here

The Queen of Cheese Presents: The True Story of Columbus

In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two

Columbus tried an open shoe

And found a lady living there

With lots of kids (but none to spare).

He called it a discovery

And, therefore, his sole property,

But when he called for golden rocks,

They sent him off with oldish socks

Because (the textbooks won’t tell you)

He was a stinker, through and through.

Pope Gregory XIII* calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: Thirty days hath September,
COUNSELOR: Does that rhyme help you remember? Have you tried other innovations? Maybe free association?
CALLER: April,
COUNSELOR: Fools!
CALLER: June,
COUNSELOR: Bug!
CALLER: and November.
COUNSELOR: Thanksgiving! Wait, aren’t I supposed to be giving the cues?
CALLER: All the rest
COUNSELOR: OK, so you had the first turn, and now I take–
CALLER: have
COUNSELOR: No, I haven’t started yet. Uh… wait ’til I count to
CALLER: thirty-one,
COUNSELOR: That’s oddly specific.
CALLER: Except for February†
COUNSELOR: Not sure why it would change then, but OK. How are you feeling now?
CALLER: alone.
COUNSELOR: That can be difficult. I’m here to listen.
 ____
†And October of 1582, which only had 21 days, because Pope Gregory lost October 5-14 playing checkers with Thoth.

H. D. calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: The sea called—

COUNSELOR: No kidding! What did it say?

CALLER: you faced the estuary,

COUNSELOR: Cool. What did I see there?

CALLER: you were drowned

COUNSELOR: I was WHAT???

CALLER: as the tide passed.—

COUNSELOR: Righ. Um…

CALLER: I am glad of this—

COUNSELOR: What have I ever done to you?

CALLER: at least you have escaped.

COUNSELOR: No I haven’t. My shift doesn’t end until midnight.

 

From “Loss” by H. D. Read the original here.

Green Eggs and Ham meets The Truman Show (as a portal fantasy)

It’s Green Eggs and Ham meets The Truman Show, and it’s a portal fantasy.

A + B = Awesome

 

I do not think I’m on TV

With lots of people watching me.

 

Then can you explain this wizard

And that fire-breathing lizard?

 

But who would put me on TV?

That’s not a show I’d want to see.

 

Would you want to watch the show

If it had a talking crow?

 

I would not want to watch that show,

Not even with a talking crow.

I would not watch me with a wizard

Or a fire-breathing lizard.

I would not watch me on TV,

It just does not appeal to me.

 

If we sent you somewhere scenic

Would you watch you with a phoenix?

 

I would not watch me with a phoenix

Even if the views are scenic.

I would not want to watch that show,

Not even with a talking crow.

I would not watch me with a lizard

Or a fire-breathing wizard.

I would not watch me on TV,

Not even if the channel’s free.

 

Would you watch you on a boat?

Or an island that can float?

 

I would not watch me on a boat

Or an island that can float.

I would not watch me somewhere scenic,

I would not watch me with a phoenix.

I do not want to watch that show,

Not even with a talking crow,

Not with a lizard, not with a wizard,

Nor if it’s free. Put down the TV.

 

Would you watch you on a throne

Carved from a single, monstrous bone?

 

I would not watch what you have shown,

Not even from a throne of bone

Somewhere scenic on a boat

Or an island that can float,

Not with a phoenix or a crow,

I do not want to watch that show,

Not with a lizard, not with a wizard.

Turn off the TV—there’s nothing to see.

 

Would you watch you with a sword

That too easily gets bored?

 

I would not watch me with a sword

That too easily gets bored—

Do you think I’m off my gourd?

Not from a throne crafted from bone,

Not on a boat or an island that floats,

No matter how scenic. Not with a phoenix.

Not with a crow hosting the show,

Not with a wizard, not with a lizard.

Turn off that stuff. I’ve heard enough.

 

Would you watch you in a world

In which space and time are curled?

 

I would not watch me in a world

In which space and time are curled,

I would not watch me in a world

In which space and time are curled,

I would not—have we gotten stuck?

Viewers at home, you’re out of luck.

 

If you would escape this wheel,

I’m sure by now you know the deal:

The only way—you’ve got to know—

Is to sit and watch the show.

 

Fine! If it will set me free,

I will watch me on TV.

 

That’s all I need for you to see.

 

[On TV:

 

I wonder what’s behind this door—

I haven’t seen it here before.

 

Try it, try it, and you’ll see.

(I’ll just rub my hands with glee.)

 

Very well, I’ll try the door.

Ack! Is that a manticore?]

 

Now I’ve watched the show I’m in.

The plots are all absurdly thin,

The sets are cheap, the friends are fake,

The whole thing is a big mistake.

I don’t know why you think I’d feel

That any of this stuff is real.

 

But you were there!

 

But I don’t care.

Now that I have watched my show

I still don’t like it. Can I go?

Giorgos Seferis calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: Since we still had some hardtack / how stupid of us / to go ashore and eat

COUNSELOR: Did you stop at some waterfront dive?

CALLER: the Sun’s slow cattle,

COUNSELOR: Oh. Ship’s rations can be bland, but cattle rustling?

CALLER: for each was a castle

COUNSELOR: Oh—cas-tle. I thought you said—

CALLER: you’d have to battle / forty years,

COUNSELOR: You had a hankering for siegefood?

CALLER: till you’d become / a hero

COUNSELOR: So now you are the sandwich?

CALLER: and a star!

COUNSELOR: Oh, are you in one of those places that names sandwiches after celebrities?

CALLER: On the earth’s back

COUNSELOR: How do you know which side is which?

CALLER: we hungered,

COUNSELOR: Is the food better in the front?

CALLER: but when we’d eaten well / we fell to these lower regions / mindless and satisfied.

COUNSELOR: Yeah, that sometimes happens to me when I’ve eaten too much.

CALLER: …

 

 

Read the rest of “The Companions in Hades” by Giorgos Seferis here.